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Office of the Ombudsman to fortify IT capabilities vs hacking | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has been saving up funds to boost its information technology (IT) capability after it discovered that respondents in cases they are about to file were able to hack into their system.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires made this revelation on Monday after being asked during the Office of the Ombudsman’s proposed 2024 budget discussions before the House Committee on Appropriations about why they have unfilled positions in the agency.

Martires said they intended to keep several positions vacant as he first studied how complaints can be disposed of quickly — by merging the fact-finding investigation group and the preliminary investigation group — before hiring lawyers to fill up spots.

The second reason, he said, is so that they can prioritize the IT division.

“But if there are unfilled positions regarding the administrative personnel, we want to keep that empty because the Office of the Ombudsman does not need non-lawyers; the Office needs lawyers.  And the Office of the Ombudsman needs IT,” Martires said in Filipino.

“Our problem in the Office of the Ombudsman is our IT; we discovered this year that our system was hacked. Those who have cases with us, the reason why they know the details of their cases is because three individuals are looking at our firewall.  So because of that, two of our personnel from the Management Information System are on preventive suspension because of this,” he added.

According to Martires, it is hard to push for cases when the respondent already knows how the complaints would turn out — leading him to advise lawyers not to use their internet connection in the meantime.

“Having respondents know about decisions being crafted is not a joke.  So, there was a time when I advised the lawyers not to use the internet of the Office of the Ombudsman.  We have a lot of problems with unfilled positions, your Honor, but I assure you, within the year, we’ll be hiring additional lawyers,” he said.

Martires also said that they have been trying to stretch funds, noting that he asked the Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas and the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao not to attend the budget deliberations at the House.

“If you have noticed that two of our Deputy Ombudsman — one from the Visayas and one from Mindanao are absent because I told them don’t bother coming. It’s a waste of travel expenses.  We can use that for bonuses to employees by Christmas time,” he said.

“If we would not save funds, we won’t have savings, and right now I am trying to save more because of our plan to buy more hardware for our IT, and the software will be provided by a foreign country.  But of course the hardware has a cost, and the travel of experts to the Philippines will be shouldered by the Office of the Ombudsman,” he added.

In response, Batangas 2nd District Rep. Gerville Luistro suggested that the improvement of the Ombudsman’s IT division be included in the Office’s 2024 budget.

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